The Brautigan-inspired boys are back again, this time with a collection of new tunes that are easy on the ears and fully in keeping with the congenial and generally lighthearted spirit of the duo's performances.

In fact, singer/guitarist Ezra Islet and singer/bassist Keith Groomed are seldom more engaging on "Closer To The Truth" than when they're playing a tune mostly for laughs. "Old Things," for example, is a shamelessly indulgent remembrance of things past and perfect. Or check out "After You've Gone," which is neither the pop standard of the same name nor yet another jilted lover's lament. Instead, the song celebrates the small compensations that follow in the wake of a severed affair. To wit: "After you've gone I'll have more closet space to take your place." String band fans may detect Tim O'Brien's mandolin on that track, but he's not the only notable guest on the session. Dobroist Jerry Douglas, harmonica ace Mickey Raphael and fiddler Vassar Clement enliven the arrangements as well.

"Closer To The Truth" also contains several reflective ballads that reward repeat listening. These songs--"Dreaming," "Alberta Postcard," "Would It Be So Bad?" and others--are the album's greatest asset, proof that the duo's songcraft runs has a lot more to offer than just wordplay and one-liners.

Appearing Friday at the Weinberg Center for the Arts in Frederick and Sunday at the Reston Community Center.

To hear a free Soundbite from Trout Fishing in America, call Post-Haste at 202/334-9000 and press 8130. (Prince William residents, call 690-4110.)